Online courses during lockdown: Bonda teenagers take a 5km mountain hike daily to get the signal for online courses
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BHUBANESWAR: Sheer willpower and a determination to get an education have led two Bonda teenage girls who live in the remote Bonda Hills of Malkangiri District to walk 4 to 5km daily to a hill near their village run to get online lessons. This hill is the only place near their village where they can get an uninterrupted internet connection.

Adibari Sisa and Manguli Muduli, both 17 years old and residents of the Dumuripada village in the Khairput block, not only made a long journey every day, but also built a shed on the hill of their brothers to protect themselves from the rain and during class Protect heat.

Adibari and Manguli are both Plus II sophomores at the State SSD Higher Secondary School in Govindpally. Her school started teaching online on July 13th after a trial run from July 10th. Classes take place for one hour a day, except on Sundays.

“We’ve been walking up the wooded path to our classroom on a hill since July 13,” Adibari said. Neither the rain nor the scorching heat stopped them from undertaking this strenuous hike every day. Even the presence of snakes in the area hasn’t stopped them from continuing their education.

The school runs classes on Google Meet. Various subjects such as physics, chemistry, botany, zoology, mathematics and English are taught on the six days of the week.

Adibari’s sister and mother raised money to buy her a smartphone, while Manguli uses her brother’s for class. The girls are particularly fond of botany and zoology and want to pursue a career as a nurse. “We want to take care of the patients,” said Manguli, adding that they were aware of Covid-19 and its effects. “It’s a pandemic and we have to wash our hands, wear masks and maintain social distance frequently to keep it at bay,” Adibari said.

Director Chaitanya Nali praised the girls’ enthusiasm. “A wooded path on sloping ground to take courses reflects their immense interest in their studies,” he said. “After the school reopens, students will have practical classes. We have already started preparing, ”said Ashok Kumar Swarnakar, junior professor of botany at the school.

The Bonda community, to which the girls belong, is a particularly vulnerable tribal group (PVTG). 7,000 to 8,000 Bondas live in the Bonda Hills of Malkangiri, living in 33 high-turnover villages and five hamlets under two panchayats.

“After the outbreak of the pandemic, the district administration carried out a door-to-door thermal inspection of the Bondas in accessible villages. All of them tested negative, ”said Khairaput’s block development officer, Hruda Ranjan Sahoo.

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